Southside Village Health Center to redirect student traffic following Fall 2019 opening

South Village Counseling Services (pictured above) is located in Onondaga Hall. The Southside Village Health Center is slated to open in Fall 2019, and is anticipated to alleviate the patient load from Lauderdale (Sophie Yeomans/staff photographer).

South Village Counseling Services (pictured above) is located in Onondaga Hall. The Southside Village Health Center is slated to open in Fall 2019, and is anticipated to alleviate the patient load from Lauderdale (Sophie Yeomans/staff photographer).

Construction began this summer to create a health clinic on the south side of campus in Onondaga Hall to ensure more convenience for students in terms of location and aid. Construction is expected to continue throughout the semester, and the clinic is expected to be staffed and opened in Fall 2019. 

The Department of Student and Campus Life deemed the project necessary and felt that students would be better served if they developed a more distributive model of health and counseling, according to Vice President of Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio.

“Our thinking for a long time was that students should, from all over campus, go to Lauderdale,” Bonfiglio said. “Lauderdale is its own building, kind of out of the way, thus students’ confidentiality and privacy is maintained this way. But, we were getting feedback that it was too out of the way, that students weren’t going.”

The Southside Village Health Center will likely have a nurse, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, a doctor and a pharmacist, according to Bonfiglio. 

“We currently have a nurse at Sturges,” Bonfiglio said. “Therefore, that person will be spending time over on Onondaga. We have not worked out the details of who and what days and that’s something that will be worked on.”

There are still discussions regarding the best way to utilize the space, according to Interim Principal Student Health Administrator Steven Radi. 

“There’s been a lot of talk about how we can best use this very small 800 square foot office,” Radi said. “It’s beautifully designed … but there’s still thought about how we can use this the best way possible for our students.”

With two centers for students to seek health services, the college predicts that traffic will be distributed between the centers, decreasing crowds. The Department of Student and Campus Life feels that making health and counseling more convenient for students will make the services more attractive to them, according to Bonfiglio.

This change, among others, is being considered in the construction process, according to Michael Neiderbach, Director of Planning and Construction.

 “The construction is being handled on the North side of Onondaga,” Michael Neiderbach, Director of Planning and Construction said. “The space being filled is what was an existing Residence Hall Director apartment, and we are building a small atrium entrance way into the space for handicap accessibility.” 

The opening of the clinic will help Lauderdale allocate more time for seeing students, Radi believes. 

“[The staff] are very dedicated … we try to keep people happy but it’s difficult, we try to see people who need to be seen on the same day that they call or come in,” Radi said. “That’s always been my goal to get people taken care of and make sure that their needs are being addressed.”

The project is funded through the residence hall budget, according to Bonfiglio. All students who live on campus pay a room rate and that money is held in a differ budget, otherwise known as the dormitory income fund reimbursable. Differ money was allocated for the creation of the space, according to Bonfiglio. 

“Essentially it is your money,” Bonfiglio said. “It’s your money because there are people serving you, taking care of you and we are hoping that we will improve access, but in some ways, you could say that the project is an experiment and we will see what works best.” The clinic will be accessible to all students that pay a health fee in the same way that Lauderdale is.

“We hope that this way we can reach more students,” Bonfiglio said. “We hope to eliminate some of the delays that students experience, whether they cannot fit in an appointment when they are over on that half of campus, and also in terms of scheduling appointments will change as well.” 

Last semester, there were 10,000 patient encounters, according to Bonfiglio.

“Figure we have 5,000 students, that could mean that every student was there twice, or rather that a handful of students went ten times,” Bonfiglio said. “But we think that there will be more patient encounters with the larger access to medical care and counseling.”

While there are no definite plans for the operation of the health center, Radi is grateful that the student population seeks out health services. 

“We’re always very pleased that our student population finds us and uses us,” Radi said.

News editor Zainab Tahir contributed reporting for this article.